“I had no idea!”
That was the typical response of general manager Jim Crutcher’s employees at Berge Ford after attending presentations recently by representatives of three charitable agencies that Mesa United Way helps support.
“(Owner) Craig Berge has always been a United Way supporter and we’ve had good participation in our workplace campaign in the 19 years that I’ve been here,” said Crutcher, who is also a Mesa United Way board member. “There was a lot of interest last year when several partner agencies made presentations. Then for this campaign, representatives from United Food Bank, Child Crisis Center and Sunshine Acres Children’s Home made presentations and interest really took off.
“It’s one thing to be encouraged by your employer to support Mesa United Way. But you get a whole new perspective when you see and hear first-hand the great work that they and their partner agencies do,” Crutcher said.
Linda Haskell, resource development director for Mesa United Way, credits an increase in agency presentations to employee groups throughout Mesa for nudging contributions to the halfway point of the 2012-13 campaign goal of $2,825,000, slightly ahead of last year’s rate.
“We’re really encouraged that we’ll reach our goal this spring,” she said. “The more people know about us and the good work our partner agencies do, the more enthusiastic they are about giving.”
More than 200 Mesa businesses currently have workplace campaigns that encourage employees to make single donations or to sign up for regular payroll deductions, Haskell said. About one-fifth of the businesses have requested presentations by various of Mesa United Way’s 23 partner agencies. “We love to arrange the presentations because employees want to know where their donations are going. Following the presentations at Berge Ford, participation increased by 50 percent.”
Participants also come away with a better understanding of why their donation to Mesa United Way helps stretch their dollars, said Lillie Gould, a resource development associate who coordinates the presentations. “A family in crisis may need food, shelter services and counseling, and we make sure the dollars get to where they’re needed most.”
Because Mesa United Way’s overhead expenses are covered by grants and a group of corporate sponsors, including Berge Ford, every dollar donated through workplace campaigns is funneled directly into services for people in need.
“It’s really a no-brainer,” said Crutcher. “Mesa United Way makes it easy. They carefully research the agencies and do an excellent job getting the resources to where they’re needed most. It’s just a great way for Mesa people and businesses to help people in our community who need some help.
For more detials, visit www.mesaunitedway.org and click “campaign.”
Bob Schuster is a retired journalist and volunteer publicist for Mesa United Way.